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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Gonzaga forward Drew Timme declares for 2022 NBA draft, maintains option of possibly returning for senior season

UPDATED: Thu., April 7, 2022

Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Drew Timme (2) shoots against Arkansas Razorbacks forward Jaylin Williams (10) during the second half of a Sweet 16 game on Thursday Mar 24, 2022, at Chase Center in San Francisco, Calif. The Arkansas Razorbacks won the game 74-68.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Drew Timme (2) shoots against Arkansas Razorbacks forward Jaylin Williams (10) during the second half of a Sweet 16 game on Thursday Mar 24, 2022, at Chase Center in San Francisco, Calif. The Arkansas Razorbacks won the game 74-68. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
By Jim Meehan The Spokesman-Review

Gonzaga’s Drew Timme, one of the most popular and productive players in program history, announced Thursday he’s declaring for the NBA draft on his Twitter account.

Timme didn’t specify in his Twitter post if he would retain the option of returning for his senior season, but his father Matt said in a text message to the S-R that Drew is represented by NCAA certified agents, meaning Timme could test the waters and decide to come back to Gonzaga.

“One of the best decisions I have ever made was to come to Spokane and Gonzaga to play basketball in front of Zag Nation,” wrote Timme, a two-time second-team Associated Press All-American. “I have had the privilege to play with and be supported by the best coaches, teammates, fans, friends and family anyone could ask for. I have forever been changed into a better person and basketball player because of that opportunity!

“The dream has always been to play professionally. After lots of thought and discussion, I will be putting my name in the NBA Draft.”

The charismatic Texas native, known for his deft footwork, assortment of post moves and mustache celebrations, has scored 1,521 points, 15th in school history, in 97 career games. There are only three three-year players ahead of Timme on the all-time scoring list – No. 1 Frank Burgess, 2,196 points; No. 3 Adam Morrison, 1,867; and No. 10 Jeff Brown, 1,646.

If Timme stays in the draft – the deadline for underclassmen to withdraw is June 1 – the Zags could be looking at replacing two frontcourt standouts. Freshman Chet Holmgren is in contention for the top overall pick and he’s in the top three in most NBA mock drafts.

Holmgren hasn’t announced his plans for next season.

If Timme and Holmgren depart, rising senior Anton Watson, a key player off the bench last season while averaging 7.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists, would probably take on a larger role. He’s played in 79 games and started 22 in his first two seasons.

Other candidates on the current roster include Ben Gregg, a 6-foot-10, 225-pound forward who has seen limited playing time in 35 career games, and Kaden Perry, an athletic 6-9 forward who was limited to nine games as a freshman due to a back injury. Both are promising prospects but haven’t seen extensive minutes.

Gonzaga also could try to bring in an experienced big from the transfer portal.

Braden Huff, a 6-9 forward from Glenbard West High in Chicago, is the only member of GU’s 2022 recruiting class.

Timme made “well into six figures” from name, image and likeness (NIL) deals as a junior, according to his agents, but he said last month money wouldn’t be a factor in his stay-or-go decision. The 6-10 forward is well known nationally in college basketball circles and probably would make even more through NIL if he returns for his senior season.

“I don’t let money affect my decision,” he said. “I’m also in a position where my parents are doing really well and very supportive. I don’t feel any pressure to make a certain amount of money or anything, I’ll make a decision on what I’m most comfortable with and what’s best for me. That’ll dictate the decisions for me.”

Timme has been one of the best low-post scorers in college basketball over the past two seasons, but draft analysts have questioned whether his game will transfer to the NBA, which tends to favor bigs with defensive versatility and perimeter shooting ability to stretch the floor.

Timme has a soft touch in the lane and made 63.7% of his career attempts inside the arc. He worked hard during the offseason on his 3-point shooting but finished at 28.6%, identical to his sophomore season.

ESPN’s post-NCAA Tournament mock draft projected Timme as a late second-round selection at No. 55 to Golden State. Bleacher Report has him going No. 53 to Utah.

Timme didn’t make the latest two-round mock drafts by the Athletic, Tankathon and NBAdraftroom.com. He’s ranked 11th among power forwards and 65th overall by Tankathon and No. 83 by NBAdraftroom.com.

“Timme is an elite scorer at the college level and might be the best player in college ball,” according to NBAdraftroom.com. “He lacks elite athleticism, but his skill level could carry him to a successful NBA career.”

Timme has collected a lot of hardware in three seasons. He was named the 2022 West Coast Conference Player of the Year after averaging 18.4 points. He won the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award as a sophomore after putting up 19.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. He was a finalist for the 2022 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award.

Timme was first-team All-WCC last season and made the WCC All-Freshman team in 2020. He was a three-time WCC All-Tournament selection and ranks as Gonzaga’s all-time leader in points scored in NCAA Tournament games. The Zags have a 90-7 record in his 97 career games.

“Thank you to all of those who have been part of my journey so far,” Timme wrote.

“A special thanks to coach (Mark) Few and the entire GU athletic staff. The love and support have made my years at GU some of the best I will ever experience!”

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